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Get Your Vagina Ready for Summer in 8 Easy Steps

Building sandcastles at the beach. Family picnics. Canoeing at the lake. Drive by visits from the Ice Cream Man. Summer can be a fun time for your vagina. But just as a long day in the sun can wipe out your kids, leaving them sweaty, exhausted and whining for a popsicle, it can render your V-spot hot, tired, itchy and parched. So I asked the experts for their favorite ladybits* tips that will ensure the Missus stays happy and healthy all summer long.

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1. Freeze your maxi pad

This grown-up version of the classic fifth-grade sleepover prank comes from women's physical therapist and mom of three Jill Hoefs, who says it's especially helpful for women with summertime pregnancies. "Wet a regular absorbency pad to half its capacity, put it in a Ziploc, freeze it and then wear it when your vagina feels swollen or chafed," recommends the author of "Your Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains, and Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy." (Editor's note: Do not confuse it for the frozen chicken breast that's been languishing in your freezer since January 2014.) Hoef's tip is also smart for hemorrhoid sufferers.

2. Protect your pubes

Deforesting your landing strip could land you in the ER: According to a 2012 Urology study, ladyscaping-related injuries increased six times between 2002 and 2010, sending almost 7,000 women to the ER with cuts, abrasions, rashes, abscesses and hot wax injuries.

If you shave, experts suggest soaking in a warm tub or shower first to soften the hair, then using a fresh razor. Unless you're a Kardashian and your sister has a waxing workstation set up in her bathroom, leave the hot stuff to the professionals. Or, do what Jenna McCarthy, a 46-year-old mom of two tweens (and author of "I've Still Got It ... I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It: Awkwardly True Tales from the Far Side of Forty") does: "Just suck it up and get laser hair removal. Compared to what you'd spend on new razor blades over a lifetime, it's a justifiable expense, and one of the great joys of life is never ever having to worry about a stray pube or bikini burn again."

3. Kill the itch

Candida are like Gremlins, except instead of hiding out in an antique treasure chest, they live in our vaginas.

Candida are like Gremlins, except instead of hiding out in an antique treasure chest, they live in our vaginas, waiting for a little moisture to seep in and help them multiply out of control. And when they do—like after a day of hanging out in a damp bikini or forgetting to change out of your workout gear—your happy summer day will be wrecked.

Antibiotics will kill the itch, but they can also wipe out helpful bacteria along with the bad ones. That's where probiotics come in. "Kefir is a natural way to keep the microflora healthy and alive throughout your body, including in your vagina," notes Valerie Early, a registered dietitian from Schaumburg , Ill., who specializes in medical nutrition therapy. "It's better than the average dairy product, like yogurt, because the specific strains of acidophilus and lactobaccillus really do help promote those good bacteria." If you end up needing antibiotics, Early recommends chasing them with kefir to replenish good bacteria in the lower GI system. "When people have more kefir in their diets or take probiotic supplements or whole food supplements with probiotics in them, I do see a reduction in complaints in vaginal itching, yeast infections and just general immune system issues," she observes.

Hardcore DIY-ers are known to dip a tampon into kefir and insert it to relieve the itch. If you go this route, make sure the kefir or yogurt is plain; not only will the sugar in flavored varieties feed yeast, but you'll have a lot of explaining to do when you show up to pick Timmy up from camp and your crotch smells like a straw-nanna smoothie.

4. Give yourself a vacial (a vaginal facial)

You heard me. Your goodies need – and deserve – pampering, just like the delicate skin on your eyelids and cheeks, says sexuality and relationship coach Pamela Madsen, founder of Back to The Body: Sensuous Retreats for Women. Especially in the summer, when skin may be parched from pool chlorine or irritated from sweaty workout clothes. "Keep a jar of coconut oil in the bathroom, and after you pee and wipe, put a little oil on your fingers and massage your inner labia and the area around the opening of your vagina," Madsen says. "This will keep the skin of your inner labia and the opening to your vagina soft and subtle." Cuticle softener, teeth whitener, makeup remover: Is there anything coconut oil can't do?

5. Wear the right undies

Jennipher Walters, co-founder of FitBottomedGirls.com, recommends investing in some good fitness underwear, or at least making sure your shorts have a breathable mesh liner built in. "When the temps go up, you sweat more, which can make your lady parts more susceptible to chafing, yeast infections and other not-so-fun stuff," Walters says. "That's why it's important to wear sweat-wicking fabrics that pull moisture away from your skin." She likes UnderArmour's Pure Stretch Cheeky, which has anti-microbial technology, or the Anita Air Control Boyshort Panty for more coverage. On a related note…

6. Go commando overnight

Air is good; moisture is bad.

In 2009, I wrote a story for Health magazine called "'Down There' Secrets You Must Know." One of my star tips, besides, "Your vagina should not smell like orchids"? Go Commando. As my OB/gyn source put it, "Air is good; moisture is bad." This tip is even smarter in the summer, when we tend to sweat more.

7. Repeat after us: Sex and water don't mix

Planned Parenthood told me they get lots of questions about summer sex at the beach/in the pool/in the hot tub, which made me LOL because the thought of doing anything at a pool this summer—other than helicopter around my 3-year-old, scream-begging her to keep her jelly shoes on/not run, while simultaneously reapplying SPF 50 to my baby every 20 minutes—is a joke. The closest thing I'll be getting to sex on the beach this summer will be a peach-flavored baby food pouch and a few day-old Craisins I'm bound to find hiding in my nursing bra.

That said, I remember what it was like to be young and free, and I suppose some moms who have made it past the chaos of early childhood may actually be interested in getting wet and wild. So here's your answer: Whether it's chlorinated, ocean or lake water, summer sex is best left to dry land (with lube, of course.) "Water washes away a woman's natural lubricant, so you could experience more chafing and discomfort than normal," explains Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "If you're using a condom, less lubrication means it's also more likely that the condom could rip or tear."

Add to that the fact that natural water, like that found in lakes and oceans, contain bacteria which could put you at risk for vaginal infections, and pool chemicals can disrupt your body's natural pH balance and cause a yeast infection. Just a few more reasons why Lisa Zienin, 42, won't be joining the Deep End Club this summer. As the mom of four boys and the brains behind @SarcasticMommy4 puts it, "Going to the beach pre-kids meant wearing a sexy swimsuit & finding a secluded spot. After kids, it means wearing whatever still fits you and making sure the bathrooms are nearby."

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8. Do your Kegels

"In the summer, most of us think about working our abs or legs or arms, but don't forget about strengthening that pelvic floor with some Kegels," says Erin Whitehead, co-founder FitBottomedMamas.com. "You can't exactly see results when you do Kegels regularly, but believe me, you can feel the difference. Do them daily for a stronger core—and, you know, the ability to jump rope with a full bladder. If you're a mom, you know what I talking about."

*I implore you, do not Google "vagina synonyms." Nothing good can come of it.

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